United Way Chairs Set 2003 Goals
Ralph Fessler, chair for the university
By Greg Rienzi
When asked to look ahead to the upcoming 2003
campaign, Martin Abeloff says he's focused on the little
fish in the pond. In a sluggish economy, fund raising can
be a great challenge, he says, particularly for the smaller
community service organization that traditionally gets
"If we look at all the budget cuts at the federal and
state levels, it's hard to ignore that many social- and
health-related programs are really threatened, particularly
for the already underserved communities," says Abeloff,
director of Oncology at the School of Medicine and chair of
the United Way campaign for Johns Hopkins Medicine. "In
Baltimore alone I've observed incredible services for the
homeless and for getting people back on track. I've always
been very struck and impressed with the support the small
organizations receive, but without United Way's support,
many would not be able to survive."
The theme for this year's campaign is "What Matters,"
and Abeloff says that keeping United Way organizations
afloat and flourishing is what should matter to the entire
"I really think the Johns Hopkins Institutions have a
tremendous commitment to the underserved in Baltimore," he
says. "Now is when they need our help the most. It's
especially in these sort of tough times that I hope our
faculty and staff will rise to the occasion."
The university will officially begin its 2003 drive
for the United Way of Central Maryland this month with a
kickoff event on Sept. 26 in Shriver Hall on the Homewood
campus and several launches on other campuses.
Martin Abeloff, chair for JH Medicine
This year's three campaign chairs — for the
university, Ralph Fessler, dean of the School of
Professional Studies in Business and Education; for the
Applied Physics Laboratory, Jay Dettmer, supervisor of the
Electronic Services Group; and for Johns Hopkins Medicine,
Martin Abeloff — have set a combined Hopkins goal of
This figure represents a total for contributions from
JHM and all university divisions except the Nitze School of
Advanced International Studies, whose donations are
reported to the Washington capital area campaign. Last
year's combined Hopkins gifts to the United Way of Central
Maryland totaled $2,295,230.
Events scheduled for the six-week campaign include a
universitywide Day of Caring, to be held Sept. 11; the
first annual Hopkins Chili Cook-Off, scheduled for
November; and several lottery drawings throughout the
campaign for those employees returning pledges or
contributions of $35 or more.
The Days of Caring are events in which staff and
faculty can get directly involved with a local community
service. Traditionally, employees have fed the homeless,
refurbished shelters, held bake drives and volunteered
their time with disadvantaged or disabled children, to name
just a few. This year, volunteers will work at St. Jerome's
Head Start, a childcare center.
APL's Jay Dettmer views the Days of Caring as a good
way to expose people to the needs and functions of these
services and organizations.
"Nothing quite brings it home like a hands-on
experience, such as serving the homeless. It always amazes
me how very thankful they are for what you give them," he
Dettmer says that although it's common to want to
designate funds to a favorite charity or service, it's
important to understand that each service is just one cog
in a giant wheel. Dettmer encourages his APL colleagues to
support the United Way's community safety net, to which any
undesignated contributions will be applied. In building
this safety net, a network of agencies that helps the
entire community, the organization focuses on four
initiatives: investing in children and youth, strengthening
families, building the work force and responding to
"The more I got involved with United Way
organizations, the more I realized that homelessness, for
example, is not just about feeding them. It's not a
one-dimensional problem," Dettmer says. "These people are
on the street for a whole list of reasons: drug abuse, lack
of job training, spousal abuse — the list goes on,"
he says. "Likewise, helping them requires more than a
one-dimensional solution. It requires job training,
affordable housing, and counseling services. While it is
fine to designate to one agency, that won't solve the whole
SPSBE Dean Ralph Fessler has chosen to target his
United Way campaign message to investing in children and
youth. Fessler says that investing in a child's future
means investing in the entire community.
"When we provide support for children in their
formative years, we lay a foundation for their future
successes," he says. "When you invest in a child, good
things happen. Through the work of some wonderful agencies
right here in Baltimore, we can influence what happens in
their later lives — provide them more opportunities
to go to college, offer a decreased reliance on social
services and better overall adult health."
The money raised by the 2003 United Way campaign will
support the more than 250 affiliated human service programs
that seek to improve people's lives in Baltimore City and
the five surrounding counties.
Fessler says that, like Abeloff, he understands that
the pressures of the current economy present a challenge to
this year's campaign and these organizations. How best to
confront the challenge? Fessler says the key is to increase
overall participation, making people realize that every
little bit helps.
"We are all aware of the problems. Unemployment is
high. Salary increases have not been as high as previous
years. And Johns Hopkins has not been immune to this," he
says. "However, all the community's needs are still there.
In fact, the needs are even greater now. A person's habit
of giving to the United Way each year is an important one
to maintain. For the United Way agencies to sustain their
level of service to the community, they need our help. This
year we all have to give an extra push."
For more information on Hopkins' United Way campaign,
JHU Answers Your United Way Questions
How does United Way of Central Maryland address the
needs of the community?
Volunteers work with other local service groups to
assess the human needs of our community. After studying
these needs, volunteers employ a priority system that helps
them determine which programs and services to fund and at
what level. They also monitor United Way-funded services on
a year-round basis to ensure the community's money is spent
I can't afford to give much more than a dollar or two a
week. Can I really make a difference?
Every gift is important, no matter what the size. When
your gift is combined with over 200,000 other gifts in our
community, it really adds up.
How much should I give?
While only you can decide the appropriate amount of
your contribution, a guideline may be 1 percent of your
annual salary or one hour's pay per month. Or if your
annual salary is $50,000 or more, you may consider
contributing at the 2 percent level.
Can my partner and I combine our gift?
Yes, you can combine your gift in order to reach the
leadership level. For example, if you give $500 through the
Johns Hopkins University campaign and your partner gives
$500 through his or her company, the combined $1,000 allows
both contributors to become leadership givers.
What is a leadership giver?
An individual or family who contributes $1,000
annually to the Johns Hopkins University United Way
How much is spent by United Way on overhead?
United Way of Central Maryland's overhead is 17.5
percent, compared with the average overhead cost for
nonprofits of 26 percent.
How much do I have to contribute in order to be included
in the Johns Hopkins lottery drawing?
All donors who pledge a minimum of $35 annually to
United Way of Central Maryland will qualify.
When will I receive my pledge form?
All JHU pledge forms will be distributed by Oct. 3.
If I misplace or lose my pledge form, how do I obtain
Contact your departmental solicitor or divisional
coordinator to obtain pledge materials. If you are not able
to do so, contact the university's United Way
administrator, Lesley Giles, at 410-516-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will my contribution be kept confidential?
The Johns Hopkins University has a policy that
individual donors' pledges and contributions shall remain
confidential. It is extremely important that donors know
that solicitors and coordinators do not have access to
their pledge information. Under no circumstances should
solicitors or coordinators collect pledges that are not in
sealed envelopes, and under no circumstances should
solicitors or coordinators open pledge envelopes. It is
acceptable to collect a sealed envelope from everyone in a
department as long as it is made clear that anyone who does
not wish to give is free to return an empty envelope or a
blank pledge form.
Does what's happening with United Way in Washington
No, your United Way donations stay local. There are
hundreds of United Ways all across the nation, and each is
an independent entity with its own rules and bylaws. United
Way of the National Capital Area, which is under
investigation for various financial charges, serves the
District of Columbia; Fairfax, Prince Williams and Loudon
counties in Virginia; and Prince George's and Montgomery
counties in Maryland.
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